Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Minutes, May 20, 2015
The meeting was at Wood-n-Tap, 99 Sisson Ave., Hartford.
Present: Jim Smith, Morgan McGinley, Dick Ahles, Mitch Pearlman, Jeff Daniels, John Bailey, George Lombardi, Mary Connolly, Colleen Murphy, Paula Pearlman, Gary Gold, Chris Powell, Michele Jacklin, Dan Klau, Tom Scheffey.
The minutes of the April 15, 2015 meeting were accepted.
Treasurer’s report: Lombardi reported a balance of $15,167.32.
Legislative report: Bailey reported on efforts to expand the disclosure of arrest information. Murphy, Paula Pearlman, Klau and Bailey represented the FOI community in negotiations with Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane. Legislative leaders are encouraging a compromise between both sides before moving forward with legislation. Klau said anything would be better than the status quo, which was put in place by a Supreme Court ruling that state law doesn’t require the release of more than basic information on arrests.
Klau said police use news releases to announce arrests and real documents would be more valuable. The tentative agreement put in place this week would require the release of documents, such as arrest warrants and affidavits. If sealed, these documents would be released when unsealed. There also would be access to video of the processing of the person being arrested, taping already done in most police headquarters, and information on the race of the person arrested. Klau said this agreement is “far from perfect” but the best that can be obtained at this time.
New state email policy: Smith was invited to meet with the governor’s staff on a proposed policy to delete routine emails. They say there are too many emails and it costs too much to keep them. Smith suggested the routine emails of top officials should not be deleted and deleting multiple copies of emails would make retention less cumbersome.
Annual meeting awards: Final decisions were made on our annual awards.
We have two winners of the Steve Collins award, traditionally given to a journalist. They are Carolyn Lumsden, editorial page editor of the Hartford Courant, and Christine Stuart, editor of CTNewsJunkie.com.
The winner of the Bice Clemow award, traditionally given to a non-journalist, is Owen Eagan, chairman of the Freedom of Information Commission.
Champion of Open Government awards will be given to Paul Bass, editor of the New Haven Independent; Marcia Chambers, senior research scholar in law and journalism in residence at Yale Law School; and Dana Whalen, long-time news director of WTIC.
Officer elections: The current officers (Smith, Ahles, Lombardi and Connolly) were renominated. Klau volunteered to fill the vacancy for legislative chair. Elections take place at the annual meeting.
Looking ahead: The annual meeting is at noon on June 17 at the Hartford Club. The ticket price is $50.